Pakistan, New Zealand build towards World Cup with ODI series
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Pakistan and New Zealand will face off in the first of three one-day internationals in Karachi Monday, with an eye on this year's World Cup in India.
The preceding Test series between the two teams failed to produce a result in either of the two Tests -- both in Karachi -- ending a miserable season for both teams.
Pakistan failed to win any of their three-Test series at home, losing four of the eight Tests including their first-ever 3-0 whitewash at the hands of England.
New Zealand also failed to win any of their last six Tests.
But Babar Azam is confident his team will do well in the limited over matches.
"Pakistan has proved themselves to be a good white-ball team and this series provides us a perfect launching pad to kickstart our World Cup preparations," said Azam of the World Cup in October/November.
Azam's team won eight of the nine one-day internationals last year, including a 2-1 series win over a formidable Australia at home.
"We are a well-rounded side with solid batters and bowlers who have proved themselves time and again so I am confident of doing well in the coming series," said Azam.
Pakistan will miss pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi who is recovering from a knee injury sustained in November last year, while spinning allrounder Shadab Khan is also out with a recent finger fracture.
Opener Fakhar Zaman will bolster the batting, as will Haris Sohail -- recalled after two years.
New Zealand, runners-up in the last World Cup in 2019, won ten of their 16 ODIs last year and have a strong unit led by Kane Williamson.
They have been dominant against Pakistan, having won 12 of the last 15 ODIs between the two teams.
Williamson is also concentrating on World Cup, having relinquished Test captaincy.
"I felt that continuing to captain the white-ball formats was preferable with two World Cups in the next two years," he said last month, referring to the 2023 ODI and 2024 T20 World Cups.
The accomplished batter acknowledged Pakistan's strengths.
"Pakistan is a very strong side and naturally know these conditions very well," said Williamson.
"For us as a team it's focusing on the cricket we want to play and try put out some improved performances."
New Zealand pacer Matt Henry is also out of ODIs with an abdominal strain sustained on the final day of the drawn second Test.
They are already missing pace trio Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson and Adam Milne -- for varied reasons.
The remaining matches are on Wednesday and Friday, also in Karachi.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Tom Latham, Finn Allen, Michael Bracewell, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Henry Shipley, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Blair Tickner
Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Haris Rauf, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Kamran Ghulam, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim, Naseem Shah, Agha Salman, Shahnawaz Dahani, Shan Masood, Tayyab Tahir, Usama Mir
Umpires: Aleem Dar (PAK) and Asif Yaqoob (PAK)
TV umpire: Ahsan Raza (PAK)
Match referee: David Boon (AUS)